Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged the U.S. to halt nuclear talks with Iran, amid nationwide protests over the death of a young Iranian woman in police custody.
“What’s happening now deserves our full-throated support,” Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “And I think every time anyone speaks on behalf of the United States government, they need to be saying that they stand with the people of Iran, particularly with the women and girls.”
Protests erupted in Iran in September over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while she was arrested and held by the morality police for allegedly improperly wearing her hijab.
While the Iranian government has acknowledged that more than 300 people have been killed in the crackdown on protesters, the U.S.-based Human Rights Activists in Iran places the death toll even higher, at 462 killed. More than 18,000 Iranians have also been arrested, according to the organization’s latest tally.
Clinton said on Thursday that she believes the U.S. should not be negotiating with Iran “on anything” right now, adding that she believes the “horse is out of the barn” on a nuclear agreement with the nation.
The Obama administration reached an agreement with Iran in 2015 to place restrictions on the country’s nuclear program. However, former President Trump left the agreement in 2018.
A revised deal appeared near earlier this year, but negotiations once again hit a roadblock in September.
“When Trump pulled us out, we lost the eyes that we had on what they were doing inside Iran,” Clinton said. “And I believe that they started those centrifuges spinning again. And I think it’s unlikely that any agreement would be agreed to.”
“I don’t think we should look like we’re seeking an agreement at a time when the people of Iran are standing up to their oppressors and we are giving them hope and heart,” she continued.
Washington’s special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, told reporters last month that the U.S. is not currently focused on the negotiations amid the protests and Iran’s sale of drones to Russia, according to Reuters.
“Our focus is not an accord that isn’t moving forward, but what is happening in Iran,” Malley said.
Iran announced last week that it is planning a massive expansion of its uranium enrichment capacity, bringing the country even closer to weapons grade uranium, The Guardian reported.